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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

iPhone Cracked Glass Fix: Fail

A couple of weeks ago, on my birthday, I dropped my phone. It was not from a great height, and I had dropped my phone several times before, each time I picked up an undamaged phone. In this instance, I was very saddened to see that the glass had cracked. Perhaps "shattered" is a better word. I didn't let the event ruin the evening. After all, the phone was working just fine... I was sure I would be able to replace the glass.

When I visited the Apple store in downtown New York (in SoHo, on Prince Street), I was told immediately that cracked glass was not covered by the warranty, and I would have to pay $199 for a new phone. I was literally flabbergasted. My gast was flabbered. Not pretty.

Once I had my gast back in order and had cleaned up all the flabber, I pointed out that the phone was working just fine, all that needed to be replaced was a bit of glass. I spoke with a manager, and he said that Apple does not do parts replacement. What happens if I go home then find out that there was some other damage that was not apparent when the glass was fixed? I said, we deal with it then. If I get into a fender bender in my Honda Fit, Honda doesn't look at my car and say, "Bummer, we have to replace the whole thing."

"This isn't a car - it's a phone."
"It's not just a phone, it's a computer."

The next line was that it's just "easier" to replace the entire phone. I pointed out that it was not easier for me to pay $200 to replace it! And what a waste! To throw away an otherwise perfectly useful phone.

Ultimately, I checked in to see when I would be eligible for an upgrade to the 3GS for $200 (next May), and the manager showed me the web site of some businesses that offer services to replace the glass on a broken iPhone... for $200. I thanked the manager and informed him that I would be undertaking the task myself. The bit of glass can be purchased online for $30 and the tools for $5. This past Sunday I undertook the endeavor.

I laid out my tools as well as some other necessities: a pumpernickel bagel from Bergen Bagelsand a nice cup of Gorilla coffee. Away we go.

First off: on all of the YouTube tutorials, the phone were much less absolutely smashed than mine. Prying off the glass fa├žade is far more difficult when you don't even have an inch of unbroken space on your phone. Once you get in there, it's pretty interesting. It's like a desktop, but much smaller. After about 2 hours of work, I had replaced the glass and digitizer and put the phone back together.

Unfortunately, it would not turn on. That's how it seemed at least, but when I called it, the phone rang. I just couldn't answer it. It seems I didn't get the new glass/digitizer connected properly. My guess is this ribbon labeled 3. I think I pulled it off improperly and was not able to reestablish a good connection. Bummer.

I brought the phone and all the parts back to the Apple store... and was told the replacement would cost me $400. Seems I went off warranty by opening the phone. Yeah, I figured that, but the glass replacement wasn't covered by the warranty anyway! I lost my temper a bit, pointing out that the week before, a manager directed me to a service that would replace the glass for me. They gave in and replaced the phone for $199.

So, if the glass on your iPhone 3G is cracked, but everything else is working fine, and you are thinking about replacing the glass yourself... here are a few things to consider:

  • Even though cracked glass replacement is not covered by the warranty, if you attempt to replace it yourself, you will "go off warranty" and the cost of replacement will double.
  • You may very well succeed in replacing the glass. I screwed up somehow, and the glass was in especially bad shape... but you may have better luck.
  • If you try this and fail, perhaps the way around dealing with Apple's insane policy is to put the old glass back on, then throw it against a brick wall. And/or drive over it with a Humvee. Anything to cover your tracks. The tracks you left when you tried to salvage an otherwise perfectly useful phone from a landfill.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009